World leaders shared their unique perspectives, visions and challenges in moving forward on the next decade to implement the 2030 Agenda and eradicate poverty, ensure food security and manage planet resources sustainably, as the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development concluded today.
In five dialogues held throughout the day and focusing from areas needing acceleration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to the initiatives of local governments in implementing the global plan, Heads of State and Government stressed the need to build partnerships to boost progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. They emphasized that development results are best achieved when national and local plans are fully aligned. The Forum opened on 24 September when it approved a political declaration and held the first of its dialogues. (See Press Release GA/12185.)
Addressing the Forum, the President of Egypt today stressed that global economic, social, humanitarian, political and security challenges are all intertwined, which confirms that “the fate of humanity is a common one”. Increasing the ability of national institutions and supporting human capabilities to address these obstacles are as critical as ever.
“In response to the sharp decline in external financing, we have had to undertake urgent policy reforms to fund national programmes,” said Sierra Leone’s President, also adding: “We are also making business‑friendly reforms to expand private capital investment.”
The President of Kenya said his Administration has made provisions to provide free sanitary napkins to all girls in school to boost attendance and empower them in deciding their own futures.
The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said that the recent hurricane in the Bahamas demonstrates the risk facing small island developing States. “Look, disasters await us,” he warned, stressing that small islands face extreme vulnerabilities, which continue to severely hinder their progress. He urged “a handful of powerful States” to stop weaponizing trade and called for the delivery of official development assistance (ODA) for this group of countries.
The Minister for Defence of Ireland said his country is committed to contributing 0.7 per cent of its gross national income for ODA. Countries who have contributed the least of the problems to the world but are facing the bulk of the negative effects require extra assistance, he reiterated.
Jamaica’s Prime Minister said his nation is faced with the challenge of recurring debt and is also the world’s only example to attain a significant reduction in public debt without forgiveness. As a small island developing State, Jamaica remains extremely vulnerable to external shocks, particularly natural hazards, which could erode the country’s achievements in a matter of hours.
The President of Palau said ownership is necessary to achieve localization of the 2030 Agenda. While dialogue with local leaders helps identify local priorities, gaps and successes, adapting the 2030 Agenda framework into local programmes is still challenging as data remains inadequate and insufficient to effectively advance decision-making.
The Prime Minister of Bhutan said his country’s Constitution demands that the Government provide health care and education to all its citizens. “I am so happy to report that, last June, we managed to make teaching the most highly paid profession in the country,” he stressed, expressing hope that this will draw more people to this profession and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In closing remarks, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General said the voices heard today remind participants of the boundless potential that can materialize when people unite and work together towards one goal. All countries are affected by poverty and climate change, she said, noting the wide recognition that “we are off track” and accelerated action is needed. “We can still achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” she emphasized.
The President of the seventy-fourth session of the General Assembly said that the commitments made by world leaders this week are only the beginning. Commending the pledges of Governments and the private sector, he said that the Sustainable Development Goals are about ensuring that people everywhere have an opportunity to thrive. “We must therefore continue to take inclusive actions,” he emphasized, calling the political declaration a recommitment by all Member States to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The high-level political forum also heard from United Nations agencies, the private sector, civil society and youth voices.
Leaders Dialogue II
The High-level Political Forum first held a dialogue focusing on “Accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals: Critical entry points”, moderated by Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica and Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.
Ms. JAKOBSDÓTTIR said that, despite efforts the world is not making progress in fighting inequality. The Sustainable Development Goals need to become the “guiding light” in all public policy. Iceland has achieved many strides in gender equality, working with the private sector to try to close the gender pay gap, among other things. Turning to climate action, she cautioned that, “if we do not act now”, there will be dire consequences. Iceland has prioritized research and innovation in the area of climate research to create a more just and sustainable society for coming generations.
Mr. QUESADA said that the world made a commitment four years ago to “leave no one behind” and tackle inequality in and among countries. “This will not be possible unless we accelerate progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” he added. Costa Rica has been collaborating with various sectors, including business and civil society, to tackle poverty and inequality. This heightened collaboration has been instrumental in tailoring policy. Costa Rica has also identified the need to achieve sustainability in cities and harness the full potential of technological advances.
ABDEL FATTAH AL SISI, President of Egypt, in the ensuing discussion of world leaders, said that economic, social, humanitarian, political and security challenges are intertwined. This confirms that the fate of humanity is a common one. Therefore, it is essential to build partnerships to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. Increasing the ability of national institutions and supporting human capabilities is critical. Egypt has adopted a national plan focused on achieving positive results on the economic and social fronts and improving the lives of its citizens.
MILO ĐUKANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, said that an insufficient global response leads to the most vulnerable populations feeling the results. Montenegro is committed to harmonizing the global sustainable goals into its national policies and reforming various sectors of Government to boost its strategy. Results are best achieved when the national and local plans are fully aligned, he said, calling for the strengthening of mechanisms for the exchange of information between the United Nations and Member States.
JULIUS MAADA BIO, President of Sierra Leone, stressed the need to intensify efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, noting that his country has prioritized the goals focused on providing quality education and justice for all. “In response to the sharp decline in external financing, we have had to undertake urgent policy reforms to fund national programmes,” he added. “We are making business‑friendly reforms to expand private capital investment,” he emphasized, calling on global, regional and local partners to align development assistance.
UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, said his Administration has guaranteed secondary education for all and has made provisions to provide free sanitary napkins to all girls in school to boost attendance. Kenya has significantly reduced the number of people living in poverty, made significant strides in improving access to water and sanitation, and remains committed to having a nation of people living in prosperity.
RALPH GONSALVES, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that eradicating poverty, ensuring food security and managing planet resources sustainably are not just noble goals in the abstract. The recent hurricane in the Bahamas demonstrated the risk facing small island developing States. “Look, disasters await us,” he warned, stressing that small island developing States face extreme vulnerabilities. This has hindered their progress in all areas. A handful of powerful States must cease weaponizing trade, he said, calling on them to provide the necessary official development assistance (ODA) for small island developing States.
Also speaking was Taneti Maamau, President, Head of Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration of Kiribati; Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands; Martín Vizcarra Cornejo, President of Peru; Andrzej Duda, President of Poland; and Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
Also participating in the discussion was a representative of non‑governmental organization La Via Campesina.
Leaders Dialogue III
A dialogue discussion on “Measures to Leverage Progress across the Sustainable Development Goals” was moderated by Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, and Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.
Mr. NIINISTÖ said that the world is entering a decisive decade for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, emphasizing the need to accelerate action by all stakeholders. The Global Sustainable Development Report has identified governance, economy and finance, individual and collective action, and science and technology as sectors instrumental to achieving the 2030 Agenda. “We are determined to transform our country into a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society by 2030,” he emphasized, underscoring the importance of a whole-of-society approach. “This means not Governments alone, not Parliaments only, but ordinary people helping achieve progress,” he added.
Mr. BROWNE said that his country has been successful in decreasing child mortality and teen pregnancy, and is focused on providing health care to all citizens and creating thousands of job, thereby reducing poverty and inequality. A rise of inequality among nations is mostly driven by climate change and protectionist measures. “The reality is that all vulnerable countries have been left behind,” he stressed. If the world is serious about reducing inequality and providing sustainable energy for all, Member States must take steps to ensure coordination and collaboration to achieve all the Goals by 2030. “Let us partner in aligning and realigning all global policies and agree on a more equitable trading system,” he stressed.
QOHIR RASULZODA, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, said his Government has adopted a national development strategy, setting out the institutional basis to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The Government’s efforts are being focused on improving coordination to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and improve collection and quality of data. Work is also under way to ensure cohesion between local and national implementation. All sectors of society, including the private sector, civil society and academia are involved in this. International financial institutions and regional organizations also have an important role to play. Addressing the goals and targets of sustainable development requires a clear mechanism to review implementation and tailor future development plans.
LEO VARADKAR, Minister for Defence of Ireland, said his country’s outlook is international as it has committed to contribute 0.7 per cent of its gross national income for ODA. Countries who have contributed the least of the problems to the world but are facing the bulk of the negative effects require extra assistance. Ireland is determined to meet its global responsibilities to help all countries forward on the 2030 Agenda, he added.
ANDREW HOLNESS, Prime Minister of Jamaica, said his country is faced with the challenge of recurring debt. Jamaica is the world’s only example to attain a significant reduction in public debt without forgiveness. As a small island developing State, however, it remains extremely vulnerable to external shocks, particularly natural hazards which could erode the country’s achievements in a matter of hours. He urged development partners to redouble their efforts and contribute resources to truly ensure that “no one should be left behind”.
Also speaking was Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan; Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, Prime Minister of Spain; and Stevo Pendarovski, President of North Macedonia.
Also participating in the discussion was the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (on behalf of the United Nations five regional commissions) and the Vice‑Chairman of Mastercard.
Leaders Dialogue IV
Titled “Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals”, the fourth discussion was moderated by Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, President of Croatia, and Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
Ms. KITAROVIĆ said that local and regional governments play a critical role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In Croatia, the process is characterized by a systematic collaboration between local agents and the national Government. Over the last two years, more than 1,000 development projects have been implemented, done mostly using the local actors and initiatives. Croatia is also promoting the development of “smart islands”. Raising awareness for the 2030 Agenda among all stakeholders still remains a challenge. She mentioned the island of Zlarin, inhabited by 300 people who are dedicated to the sustainability of their home. “For me, it’s about giving a voice to the people and giving a positive example that could inspire people, not just in my country, but to all people around the world,” she said.
Ms. HASINA said that the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals must reflect different challenges and opportunities on the ground. It should motivate individuals, she added. “Each country has its own plan and programme, but we can share our ideas and experiences,” she continued, noting how Bangladesh has integrated the 2030 Agenda into its national and local plans. “We have adapted a whole-of-society approach and involved various stakeholders, particularly marginalized and vulnerable communities,” she said. While Bangladesh has mobilized national and local resources, it still needs international funding and ODA to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She also stressed the importance of empowering local actors.
TOMMY ESANG REMENGESAU, JR., President of Palau, said his Government will present its first voluntary national review in late 2019, demonstrating the country’s commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda. Ownership is necessary to achieve localization, he continued, underscoring that dialogue with local leaders is essential. These consultations help identify local priorities, gaps and successes. Adapting the 2030 Agenda framework into local programmes is still challenging as data remains inadequate and insufficient to properly assess progress. He called for an improvement in statistical capacities to advance decision-making and implementation.
LOTAY TSHERING, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said gross national happiness is defined by “values that will keep us loving Mother Nature”. His country’s Constitution demands that the Government provide health care and education to all of its citizens. “I am so happy to report that, last June, we managed to make teaching the most highly paid profession in the country,” he continued, expressing hope that this will draw more people to this profession and will help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
ACHIM STEINER, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that localization is, in many respects, an agenda that all United Nations agencies are trying to address. Mayors and Governors all over the world are working to mobilize the private sector and civil society. “The more local it gets, the more real it gets, and sometimes the more manageable it gets,” he added. There is extraordinary engagement at the local level to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. Localization is the key to implementation, he said, emphasizing that United Nations agencies have learned a lot from Member States localizing the global goals. “We remain fully committed to supporting you on this pathway,” he emphasized.
TRI RISMAHARINI, Mayor of Surabaya, Indonesia, said the city government is working to improve the lives of its citizens, including slum conditions. It is also focused on providing clean water and sanitation to all. Women are being empowered to start businesses and children with disabilities readily have access to education and school programmes. City governments are also using electronic systems to foster good governance and improve the lives of local communities.
Also speaking was Mswati III, King of Eswatini; Lionel Rouwen Aingimea, President of Nauru; and Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa.
Also participating was Gabriela Cuevas Barron, President, Inter‑Parliamentary Union (IPU).
Leaders Dialogue V
In the afternoon, the Forum convened its fifth leaders dialogue on the theme “Partnerships for sustainable development”, moderated by Sahle-Work Zewde, President of Ethiopia.
Ms. SAHLE-WORK said global partnerships play a critical role in trade, development, environmental protection and peace. A multi-stakeholder approach to sustainable development should focus on providing technological support and capacity-building, and should engage actors ranging from the private sector to civil society groups to non-governmental organizations. In that regard, she outlined the foundations of Ethiopia’s green, climate-resilient development strategy and invited speakers to share their countries’ own experiences.
DANNY FAURE, President of Seychelles, declared: “Governance is the key means of the implementation of the [Sustainable Development Goals], but no country can do it alone.” Spotlighting the experience of small island developing States — including the Seychelles — he described its efforts to pursue a blue economy, which conceptualizes the ocean as a crucial development space and serves as a road map for environmental protection and sustainable growth. All those are being carried out through partnerships, he said.
SALOME ZOURABICHVILI, President of Georgia, said establishing sustainable partnerships has proven to be a challenge, with relatively little engagement to date from the private sector and ordinary people. Urging Member States to deviate from a “business as usual” model, she said their projects and programmes should carry both social and economic value. For example, Georgia has committed to double its public spending on education by 2022. Strong partnerships will be critical to bridge the $37 trillion gap still needed to allow countries to fully implement the 2030 Agenda, she stressed.
IGOR DODON, President of the Republic of Moldova, outlined the pillars of his country’s national development plan, including effective and efficient governance, a healthy and safe environment and free education provided on a non-discriminatory basis. Following efforts to remove the country’s oligarchic regime — which were successfully realized in June — the Republic of Moldova is now also embarking on a range of important governance reforms, he said.
ANDREJ BABIŠ, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, pointed out that his country was recently ranked as the seventh most developed country in the world. In addition, it has announced three new sustainable development commitments — namely, to reduce its carbon footprint by planting 3 million trees in the coming years; to enhance stakeholder involvement through a new, online voluntary commitment platform; and to improve impact assessments for sustainability.
STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, called for leaders and “individual doers” to step up to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, especially ending extreme poverty and the climate crisis. Describing some of Sweden’s most recent partnership commitments, he spotlighted the Global Deal — launched alongside the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), private sector companies and trade unions — which aims to strengthen social dialogue and generate decent work. In addition, Sweden and India just announced a new leadership group for industry transition, which will help the industries responsible for 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions become more sustainable.
CHRISTIAN NTSAY, Prime Minister and Head of Government of Madagascar, said his country’s national plans aim to make up for decades of delays in sustainable development. Those focus on such priorities as promoting human security, combating inequality, addressing food insecurity and malnutrition and combating corruption, all of which undermine peace, social justice and human rights. To achieve those aims, international support will be critical, he said.
JOHN W. H. DENTON, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, emphasized that “it is possible to mass mobilize business” in support of the 2030 Agenda. Calling on intergovernmental agencies to provide the tools needed to support such efforts, he said Member States can do their part by ensuring compatible policy frameworks and well-aligned economic incentives.
Also speaking was Klaus Werner Iohannis, President of Romania; José Ulisses Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde; Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Africa Development Bank; and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.
Leaders Dialogue VI
A sixth and final leaders dialogue focused on “The 2020-2030 Vision”. It was co-moderated by Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Vice-President of Indonesia, and Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion of Malta.
Mr. KALLA, welcoming progress made to implement the 2030 Agenda since its adoption in 2015, nevertheless voiced concern that such strides have been slow and uneven. In 2020, 21 of the Agenda’s 169 targets will achieve maturity. Noting that the actions of the international community on those initial targets will greatly impact the remaining course of implementation, he called for an acceleration of action — especially on energy sustainability — and a more inclusive approach among all stakeholders.
Mr. ABELA agreed that recent studies show that “we have fallen behind” in the 2030 Agenda’s implementation. While achieving the Sustainable Development Goals may seem like an uphill battle, many strides have already been made. For example, the European Union has embarked on a transition to an efficient, carbon-neutral economy. Member States should use today’s meeting to explore what steps can now be taken to accelerate progress, he said.
EGILS LEVITS, President of Latvia, agreed that the summit allows countries to examine strides made, share lessons learned and work to address negative long-term trends which hamper the achievement of sustainable development targets. Outlining Latvia’s various programmes, he said it is building a stronger sense of trust in institutions; harnessing the potential of climate change policies across sectors, including by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making better use of land; steering education of science policy towards the needs of the future; and improving social inclusion for vulnerable groups, such as those displaced by technological changes.
MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said his country has planned for its future since the time of its independence. “We know our assets, we know our weaknesses and we know we can achieve certain things if we do things right,” he said. Describing the country’s vastly expanded economy, he said high costs of living and other factors have left many people below the poverty line. While it may be impossible to totally eradicate poverty, he pledged to continue trying. Meanwhile, rich countries should stop the unfair practice of sending their waste to poorer countries, which hinders their sustainable development, he said.
AZALI ASSOUMANI, President of Comoros, vowed that his country will serve both as an ally and a partner in the global implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Comoros national development strategy — aimed at achieving inclusive, sustainable economic growth and financial stability by 2030 — is closely aligned with those targets, he said, describing awareness-raising campaigns aimed at engaging civil society in those efforts. The United Nations and other development partners can also provide assistance.
NIKOL PASHINYAN, Prime Minister of Armenia, underlined the critical importance of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women for the achievement of all the other Sustainable Development Goals. In Armenia, he said, the share of women in business — including at the highest levels of management — is rising. More Armenian women work in the information and communications technology sector than the global average, and many women sit in top Government positions.
PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), struck a similar tone, noting that the world is not expected to meet the 21 sustainable development targets slated to mature in 2020. “This is a serious setback,” she said, calling for economic and social policies to strengthen one another; the unleashing of science, technology and innovation for development; an end to fossil fuel subsidies; and a reduction in military spending.
Also speaking was Xavier Espot Zamora, Head of Government of Andorra; János Áder, President of Hungary; and Jose Viera, Chief Executive Officer, World Blind Union.